AgustaWestland case: CBI charge sheet names ex-Defence Secy, 4 others

The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a charge sheet against five accused, including former Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and four Indian Air Force personnel, in connection with the alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

Sharma was the Defence Secretary between 2011 and 2013 before being appointed the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The Air Force personnel are Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar (retd), former deputy chief test pilot S.A. Kunte, Wing Commander Thomas Mathew (retd), and Group Captain N Santosh (retd).

The case pertains to buying of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore for ferrying VVIPs. In the deal, cleared in 2010 by the then UPA government, bribes were allegedly paid to middlemen and others.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

On September 19, 2020 the CBI had filed a supplementary charge sheet against 15 accused, including alleged middleman and British citizen Christian Michel and accused-turned-approver Rajiv Saxena, in connection with the scam.

The CBI had earlier filed a charge sheet in this case on September 1, 2017 against then IAF chief S.P. Tyagi and 11 other accused.

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